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Antiquarian: Aus dem Reiche der Drogen, 1926

7 May

Stumbled upon this book a few weeks ago at an antiquarian bookshop in Dresden and swore to myself if I returned and sold some stuff in the meantime I’d buy it. Turns out I did!

The book is from 1926 and published by Schwarzeck-Verlag Dresden. I was surprised to find such a publication here. It contains valuable information and references to the earliest herbals from the 15th century, which thanks to the invention of the letterpress printing were for the first time available to a larger audience, especially as they were not in Latin but in German language so that the common man could understand and use them. These books were richly illustrated with delicate woodcuts depicting each plant. Both pharmacology and botany would develop quickly during this time and soon would follow similar herbal books in other countries such as Belgium, Italy and England.

The first chapter gives an introduction to these early herbals of the “Middle Ages” and their authors, such as Conrad von Megenberg, Otto Brunfels, Leonhart Fuchs, Hieronymus Bock, Petrus Andreas Mathiolus, Konrad Gesner, Tabernaemontanus etc., as well as illustrators, who designed extraordinary woodcuts for these books and publishers. Guess what, it wasn’t easy to publish a book at a time when there were no laws yet on coyprights so that reprints occured still within the same year and neither the original publisher nor author could do anything about it. To this add competition and price dumping amongst publishers once a larger number of similar books was available… Wait, that all sounds familiar doesn’t it? Even today… The authors describe all of this quite vividly and so this short discurse on the first herbals ever printed is a pleasant read, spiced with examples and quotes from these very first books on plants and their alleged medicinal properties. Simultaneously we learn how the first volumes on botany and pharmacognosy came into being.

As I cannot go into detail on each chapter I will instead just list the titles for reference:

  1. The Herbals of the Middle Ages
  2. The Doctrine of Signatures
  3. The art of distillation
  4. The spice wars
  5. The cultivation of drugs in Germany
  6. The China-Bark
  7. The Liquorice
  8. The tropein-containing Nightshades
  9. The Strophanthus
  10. The noxious and innoxious types of Strychnos
  11. The Elder
  12. The Indian Hemp (Cannabis indica)
  13. The Yohimbe bark
  14. The Guajacum tree
  15. The Sarsaparilla root
  16. The Shepherd’s Purse
  17. The Rhubarb
  18. The Aconite
  19. The Opium
  20. The Cantharides

I have not read through all of the 272 pages but whenever I skim over the text I find something new and interesting, which I have not read elsewhere. This book contains plenty of interdisciplinary references and I am glad to have bought it.

 

Saw it, listened to it, bought it

22 Jan

In the mail today:

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It’s about time I share some of my favorite records. Not that I’d have that many – actually it’s quite a small collection consisting of but a few dozens of vinyls and CDs I have managed to keep after moving and relocating a couple of times. Also, opposed to adolescent dreams I did not turn exactly into an audiophile, but anyway… this ought to be about having fun and that’s also what I’ll concentrate on in this blog series.

So, I am starting with my recent acquisition, which is a milk white 10” vinyl single by Hole. The background story is that around new years we were watching some music documentaries on tv whilst I was lying in bed with a stupid stomach flue, which brought amongst others Hole to my attention. Actually I have not been overtly interested in them before as that whole grunge thing and related had more or less passed me by. However, I remember to have been quite fond of Courtney Love’s acting in The People vs. Larry Flynt and began looking for Hole music videos and interviews on youtube. After listening to some stuff from the 90ies I finally checked out the latest (and last?) album Nobody’s Daughter, which I’ll have to give another listen. Then visited the merch site and came across the glass slipper poster… continued to look for records on ebay and was quite happy to find this was indeed the art on the single release. Honestly, why else buy a single if not for some attractive cover art? Well, it also got a heartfelt cover version of Codine on the B-side, which makes a nice addition, however I could live without that. I bought this record chiefly for the visual aspect. The white vinyl adds to this and I must say it feels nice to hold this record in the hands, there is not much fuss around it apart from the cover. Therefore it has one dirty rock song on it. (Love the contrast.) Secondly I imagined this song may sound nice on vinyl and infact I like a lot how it sounds on our old vinyl player. Besides, at first we accidentally spinned it at 33 rpm… doom baby (don’t go slower). My mum then asked me if it was a man singing (however the record was already spinning at 45 rpm then). Well, I think next time she’ll recognize the voice! A final remark, I appreciate the fact there is still someone like Love in the alternative ‘mainstream’ department continuing to do music like this. This is rock the way it’s supposed to be. Good choice to release this song as a lead single. Btw. if you have not seen it yet, here is a nicely done video by a fan.

Bought from: hhv.de (fast shipping, safe packing, good customer service)